† 1304 – Death of Pope Benedict XI (b. 1240)
† 1456 – A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
† 1946 – Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini becomes the first American to be canonized.
† 2007 – Pope Benedict XVI issues the “Summorum Pontificum,” removing restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, an even greater miracle happened. Twelve relatively uneducated guys (and many, many other followers) changed the world, and were martyred to protect a lie.
Today’s reflection is about the sending out of the twelve Apostles!
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” (NRSV Mt 10:1-7)
This Gospel reading is a cousin to last Sundays, when the seventy-two disciples were dispatched to witness to the world the “Kingdom of God.” It deals with a broadening of the Kingdom from its core group and geographical area, and starts the missionary activities of the Catholic Church just prior to, and includes the time of the Jesus’ resurrection, and the “parousia” (the second coming of Christ).
Matthew, unlike Mark and Luke, has no story of Jesus’ choosing the Twelve in his gospel. Being closely aligned with first-century Judaism (he was the Jewish tax-collector), maybe he just assumed that the group of Apostles would be already known to the readers of his gospel. The number of Apostles chosen by Jesus, “twelve,” probably was meant to recall and represent the twelve tribes of Israel clearly described in the Old Testament. By doing so, Jesus is implying an authority to call all Israel into His Kingdom with His coming “new” covenant.
“Authority over … every sickness.” What a significant sentence! Jesus is giving the Apostles the gift, the grace, to witness and participate in the same activities as He. In doing so, the Twelve Apostles also share in Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom. But although Jesus teaches, the Apostles do not go out to teach at this point in time. Their commission to teach comes only after Jesus’ resurrection, and after they have been fully instructed by him.
The word “Apostle” translates to “one who is sent.” It will, with the first Easter, come to mean primarily one who had seen the Risen Lord and had been commissioned to proclaim the resurrection: our first “Bishops.” This is a great explanation for why Paul is sometimes called as the 13th Apostle. He did see the Risen Lord (on the road to Damascus), and been to told to tell the world. With some very slight variations in Luke’ Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, the names are the same in the four lists of Apostles given in the New Testament.
Now I want to write about the “black sheep” in the group: Judas Iscariot. In reading the Bible, I noticed that Judas always ends the list; and always with a mention of his betrayal of Jesus. He went and performed miracles at Jesus’ command. Judas witnessed nothing different from any other Apostles. As the “holder of the purse,” he had a special role, a quasi-board member role, in the group of followers of Jesus. AND, he was NOT the only one to turn away from Jesus. Remember, all the Apostles fled from Jesus at His capture in the garden, persecution by the Sanhedrin, and trial before Pilate. Peter (the Rock) even explicitly denied his relationship with Jesus THREE separate times! The “Rock” succumbed to betrayal and fear before the crow of the “Cock!”
So what made Judas different than the rest? I believe it was the way he handled his betrayal; his sin. All the Apostles returned to Jesus, except him. We know for a fact that at least Peter wept and begged for forgiveness. All (except Judas) gathered together and felt the mercy of God, while Judas just hung around for awhile. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist! My-bad!)
Judas, could not get past himself. His “self”-ishness would not allow him to get past his own guilt for his actions. In his eyes, no one could forgive him for what he had done. Satan had won with this one Apostle! Judas never realized the magnificence and boundless love and mercy Jesus has for everyone.
We are all sinners. We all betray the Lord many times throughout our lives. Luckily, we know that we can be forgiven. There is noting that can keep God from showing us His mercy and unlimited love, except ourselves. God doesn’t turn His back on us EVER! Even the most horrendous, dangerous, and mean person on this earth still has God with him at his darkest times.
So why can’t we see God when we sin? We turn our backs to Him. We refuse to see the brightness in the darkness of our lives. Take off the shades, open your eyes, and walk to the warm light of forgiveness and love. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a miraculous grace given to us, by Jesus, so that we can ask for forgiveness directly and physically to Him. Please use this grace often.
Like Jesus, the Twelve Apostles were initially sent only to areas of Israel. This may be because early Jewish Christians refused extending the mission to the Gentiles. Interestingly, Jesus Himself even observed this limitation during His earthly ministry. It took a scholarly, cultured, devout, and militant Jewish leader, of Jewish and Roman heritage, to help the Twelve Apostles (Judas was replaced with Mathias) extend the Kingdom of God to other parts of the known world: Saul, later to be known as Paul (my favorite “apostle.”).
Franciscan Morning Prayer
“Jesus Lord, I offer you this new day because I believe in You, love You, hope all things in You, and thank You for your blessings.
I am sorry for having offended You, and forgive everyone who has offended me.
Lord, look on me and leave in me peace, and courage, and Your humble wisdom, that I may serve others with joy, and be pleasing to You all day. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions
Not much is known of the early life of Emmanuel Ruiz, but details of his heroic death in defense of the faith have come down to us.
Born of humble parents in Santander, Spain, he became a Franciscan priest and served as a missionary in Damascus. This was at a time when anti-Christian riots shook Syria and thousands lost their lives in just a short time.
Among these were Emmanuel, superior of the Franciscan convent, seven other friars and three laymen. When a menacing crowd came looking for the men, they refused to renounce their faith and become Muslims. The men were subjected to horrible tortures before their martyrdom.
Emmanuel, his brother Franciscans and the three Maronite laymen were beatified in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #7:
United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily. On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.